fications. He emphasizes the Faery Queene's "approch" (l. 7), which causes Petrarch's soul to weep. This initial focus on the Italian author directs Raleigh's praise toward Spenser as a superior poet. However, this focus then turns to the queen herself; "those graces" (l. 8), love and "vertue," abandon Laura's tomb to join the Faery Queene's court. In other words, the graces acknowledge that Queen Elizabeth is more worthy than Laura, and that Spenser has idealized his heroine more memorably than Petrarch. The third quatrain underscores the consequences: stones bleed, ghosts groan, and, even more strikingly, Oblivion replaces the graces at Laura's "herse" (l. 10). In the final couplet, Homer's spirit also appears, trembling and cursing Spenser, "that celestiall theife" (l. 14), for excelling earlier poets and stealing their fame. These last lines concentrate Raleigh's praise of Spenser as an epic poet, not just as a love poet such as Petrarch.
Critics continue to disagree about the exact relationship between Raleigh and Spenser in this sonnet. The two poets were friends and owned adjacent properties in Ireland, and it was Raleigh who used his influence at court to introduce Spenser to the queen. Raleigh, then, may simply be proud of his protégé. However, others have inferred from these lines anxiety or even passive aggression on the part of Raleigh, whose favor with the queen was waning. Perhaps he was jealous of Spenser's immense achievement. Still, Spenser speaks of Raleigh and represents him as the character Timias in The Faerie Queene, and even at times adopts his poetic style. Whatever the reason, Raleigh crafts a dramatic sonnet of praise in the poetic mode of his gifted friend.
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